The sharing economy, I think, is not just a fad but here to stay. While there may be future regulations concerning “employee” safety or community restrictions; the idea is not going away.
Increasingly, employment is not a single gig from 9 to 5 and collecting a pension at 65. Individuals now have more ways than ever for sharing their passion and getting an audience and a following through multiple channels serving multiple interests. The idea is likely to spread even wider than sharing your car and providing a stranger a lift (Uber) or renting a room in your home for a night or two (Airbnb). Have you considered renting a room or your vacation home via Airbnb or VRBO?
If you currently have a vacation rental manager, you are likely paying 10 to 15% commission to the property management company. The property management company likely handles all aspects of your rental from marketing to get reservations, to collecting rent, facilitating check in and guest relations to maintenance and repairs. This is a great business model for a passive investment. But, how much profit are you leaving on the table with this arrangement? How much control do you give up regarding the repairs and maintenance of your investment?
Paula Pant wrote a 4 part series regarding an Airbnb experiment. She wanted to test how much more (or less) income could be derived using the Airbnb & VRBO model versus renting her 1 bedroom Atlanta apartment as a yearly rental. Under a traditional 12 month lease, she expected to gross $13,200. Under Airbnb/VRBO she grossed $28,268.35 with $7883.24 in Airbnb/VRBO expenses; leaving a comparable income to the traditional lease of $20,382.11. The 12 month additional profit through Airbnb/VRBO was $7185.11 or an additional $598.76 per month.
One guest out of 55 guests created a drama where the police were called. While she does not go into detail regarding the issue; the 98% “non-drama” rate is pretty good!
What is interesting about her experiment is not the amount of profit or the fact that is was more profitable but the lessons learned. While the experiment was conducted in Atlanta and not in a resort destination like the Outer Banks, some of the lessons can be extrapolated to this market.
A long term rental agreement provides a different relationship and expectations between landlord and tenant. Under this traditional relationship, a landlord will get an emergency call about an overflowing toilet but does not have to provide fresh flowers and soap. A vacation rental is much more hands on than this. You are called to be a tour guide, restaurant critic and event manager.
A weekend or weekly guest, on the other hand, expects accommodations resembling the hotel experience. The little touches of fresh flowers, a welcoming gift; as well as toilet paper, paper towels, trash liners, soap, shampoo and the like are an added expense and need to be purchased and restocked. With multiple turnovers in a month, this is much more hands on then the traditional rental.
Vacation rental managers have long known, it is not the house but the experience that is being sold.
What is your time worth? What do you enjoy? The owner in this experiment estimated it took 30 minutes of phone calls per turnover and 90 minutes of cleaning. Two hours per guest is not a lot of labor, but what if you are not available to clean or hate to clean. Can you find reliable help for the specific short window, perhaps 2 hours, where the prior guest is leaving and the new guest arrives? The owner in the experiment found finding reliable cleaners to be the most frustrating aspect and gave up only to perform the task herself. While her estimated hourly rate for performing these tasks were over $53.82 per hour, actual results in each market will vary.
Perhaps you purchased your vacation home and lovingly furnished it with all your favorite things. Next, consider how you will feel once guest complain. Rest assured, guest will complain. It is easy to dismiss the disgruntled guest who complains about the weather, after all, what can you do about that.
It is harder to resist the criticism on personal choices you have put thought and care into. Opening your home to guest or your vacation home to renters is opening yourself to criticism. Sometimes, it can be very public criticism on Airbnb and VRBO sites. A disgruntled guest can also lash out against you on other rating sites. Do you have the tough skin to keep balanced when under attack? Can you be objective and provide good customer service with something so personally connected?
Best of both worlds
Xpert Home Services has years of experience in real estate and vacation home management. We realize that many vacation home owners are adept and want to be hands on in the reservation process and fielding guest inquiries before booking; but can’t be as responsive regarding cleaning or maintenance issues that arise after guests check in. That’s why we designed our hosting package to be flexible and allow you to perform the tasks you want to and let us handle the rest. We are local, and know the area to answer guest questions. We have expert staff to respond quickly to emergency and non-emergency maintenance calls to give you the peace of mind that your guest and your home is being taken care of. This hybrid approach saves you money on property management expenses, increases your control over your property and the rentals, and provides a local contact when you can’t be here to handle a crisis yourself.